Posts Tagged "Ask Penny"


Ask Penny: WordPress Plugins

Ask Penny: WordPress Plugins


Posted By on Dec 22, 2014

Ask Penny

Penny Shima Glanz is a computer scientist with a passion for information management and how we interact with technology. She started PennyWise Consulting, LLC to help solo and small businesses figure out how to make the most of their technology needs and budgets. When not wrangling technology she can be found knitting, snuggling with her cats and reading, or out on a muddy trail run at sunrise.

Today’s question for Penny: What WordPress plugins do you recommend?

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Ask Penny

Penny Shima Glanz is a computer scientist with a passion for information management and how we interact with technology. She started PennyWise Consulting, LLC to help solo and small businesses figure out how to make the most of their technology needs and budgets. When not wrangling technology she can be found knitting, snuggling with her cats and reading, or out on a muddy trail run at sunrise.    

Today’s Question: Should I add a category or tag to my blog post?

Penny’s Answer: First let me explain how categories and tags work in general: Let’s say you decided you want to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Your shopping list has eggs, flour, and milk. When you walk into the store, looking to pick up the ingredients, you don’t walk to aisle F for flour, but go to the baking aisle. You are going to the aisle based on a category, not the name. Categories are generally broad in scope, in that baking aisle not only can you get flour, but also sugar, spices, and chocolate chips.

Thanks to Twitter and Instagram, the term #hashtag is something you likely recognize, heck it’s even in the OED! If you leave out the actual hash sign, then you are left with the tag as it is most commonly used in blog posts today. Tags are generally more specific than categories; returning to my cookie analogy, cookies and chocolate chip cookies could be a tags with baking as the category.

Categories and tags become sign posts within the website and help to organize it. These signs are most helpful for navigation, guiding site visitors deeper into the site, and also for search engine optimization. For navigation, it’s easy to provide a link to all the posts that have be assigned that term, for example, all my Ask Penny posts are tagged. Search engine optimization is a very complex (and often controversial) topic. Simply, with SEO you are trying to help the search engines figure out what the important topics and parts are of your site are and to display them when someone enters relevant search terms.

Organized content helps everyone, but keep it simple and logical for your site visitors! Consistency is key for whatever categories and tags you choose to keep things organized. If you have a group of posts, for example, that are for cookies, then that should be the word you use. Cookie, cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are all similar but different. How finely grained your categories and tags are depends on your site and what’s important to you. The categories and tags for a personal blog and a business blog, while covering similar topics, will likely be very different. When developing the site, this is something that needs to be thought about, though remember it can evolve over time. It’s important to design your site primarily for your visitors’ experience; a well designed site will not need to stress over SEO.

If you would like to learn more about SEO, Google developed an approachable Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and there is a brief introductory article from torque. For more about tags and categories, it is important to view documentation for your particular website, such asWordPress Categories vs. Tags and Blogger labels.

 

Thanks so much for your insights, Penny! Have you got a tech question? Leave it in the comments and you might find the answer in Penny’s next post!

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“Ask Penny” is the place to come with all of your tech-related questions. Want to know how to tweak your web site without hiring professional help, or when is the right time to get that type of help? Bring your questions right here to the comments! Once a month Penny will be back to answer a few more.

Ask Penny

 

Penny Shima Glanz is a computer scientist with a passion for information management and how we interact with technology. She started PennyWise Consulting, LLC to help solo and small businesses figure out how to make the most of their technology needs and budgets. When not wrangling technology she can be found knitting, snuggling with her cats and reading, or out on a muddy trail run at sunrise.      

Today’s question: Do I need to call someone and pay or can I fix it myself? Is it possible for you fix most every technical problem you encounter yourself?

Penny’s answer: With time, yes. The real answer depends on your priorities and comfort level. I understand. Trust me, I’m all about DIY and not just for my technology.

I’ve built several computers over the years. I am a knitter and crocheter and am comfortable at the sewing machine. We fix just about everything in our own home. Despite all this DIY, I do know when to call in someone when I need to, especially around the home. I’ll install a new faucet, frame a wall, or wire up a new light, but you won’t catch me near the gas lines. Why? I grew up using power tools and among contractors, but know where I draw the line. Next time (may it not be for a good long while) I might even hire someone to move a new washing machine into the house … they’re easy to hook up, but a large and heavy appliance to wrestle into place!

What you need to determine is how whatever is broken impacts you and your business. Is it something that’s just annoying sometimes, such as part of the website looks different when you view it on your really old smart phone? Or is it something that makes it impossible for your customers to purchase what you sell and next week is the launch of your new collection? Do you have the time right now to work on making it right while still doing what your business needs for you to do?

Regardless, don’t panic and if you do this next step, you’ll be on the path to fixing it yourself or at least providing the individual you hire helpful information to diagnose and address the problem.

Do you know what caused it to break? If you aren’t sure, what likely happened right before you noticed things weren’t right? Did you update to version x.y.z of the software and now the shopping cart looks weird? Did you add a new widget to the side bar and now the navigation menu at the top looks funny? Or all of the sudden it just doesn’t seem right? For example, if you updated your website one step at a time and paused to make sure things work between updates, making backups of the files and data before you pressed that upgrade button, then reversing that one change is much easier. Even if you aren’t comfortable rolling back yourself, you can tell the person what happened and it will be a faster fix.

So what do you do now that you know that bit of code is buggy? If you want to try to find a solution yourself, go for it! The key is to be a smart researcher and not just try whatever solution pops up first in your search engine. If you have problems with a WordPress plugin update, I suggest going to the plugin’s WordPress page and reading through the changelog and support tabs. Skim through the changelog to see if any key words jump out at you to see what might have caused things to not work right. In the support tab this is where problems are posted, if a solution has been found then the topic is appended so you know it’s resolved. Skim through and see if someone has the same problem! If the software also hosts their own support forums on their own pages, check there too.

Thanks so much, Penny, for all your helpful advice! It’s always good to know when to DIY it … and when to call in a professional! And with Penny’s tips you’ll be armed for any scenario, and on your way to the fix you need!

Do you have a question for Penny? Ask it in the comments below and she’ll be back next month with more answers!

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